Air Force Major Steve Lewis Can Keep His Bible on His Desk
Peterson AFB has ruled that Major Steve Lewis was within the rules when he kept his Bible on his desk:
We have concluded that no abuse of liberties has occurred, and Maj Lewis’s behavior and the workplace environment at the RNSSI are well within the provisions of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Air Force Standards, paragraphs 2.11 and 2.12, “Free Exercise of Religion and Religious Accommodation” and “Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause.”
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein was livid, naturally, as he doesn’t like it when Christians have the same religious liberty protections as everyone else. Therefore, he filed an immediate and aggressive…FOIA request. Actually, he didn’t even file it. Weinstein — who pays himself nearly $1,000 a day, every day, for his “work” in his charity — instead had a volunteer log onto the Air Force eFOIA site and submit the request for him.
Todd Starnes commended the Air Force for the right call, Major Lewis for his conduct, and then laid a gauntlet at Weinstein’s feet:
Unlike many military personnel, [Col. Damon Feltman] refused to be bullied by Mr. Weinstein. He investigated the complaint, found that it was without merit and allowed the major to carry on.
Second, I want to commend Maj. Lewis for setting a Christ-like example. He did not create a fuss. He did as he was instructed to do and allowed the system to work.
Third, I want to challenge Mr. Weinstein to stop pestering the military with his petty complaints. And stop bullying Christian military personnel, too. We’ve grown tired of his anti-Christian vendetta.
The better gauntlet, of course, should go to the US military — who should be challenged to stop reacting to Mikey Weinstein’s pestering.
Still, Starnes’ last sentence is important to remember. Mikey Weinstein is actively targeting Christians for discrimination. In fact, he publicized Major Lewis’ name, office number, and desk photo for an explicit purpose: intimidation.
Doubt it? Despite the loss, one MRFF supporter congratulated Mikey Weinstein on the outcome: Greg Petrequin is a retired Air Force Colonel who admitted just after retirement that he’d actively supported the MRFF while he was on active duty. He framed the loss as a victory by saying Major Lewis had been scared into putting the Bible away. Thus, through sheer intimidation, he claims the MRFF got what it wanted anyway.
This isn’t a new revelation. Weinstein has routinely cold-called military commanders complaining about their subordinates and told Christians to “inform their insurance company” that he’s after them — all in an effort to coerce them to his will.
And the fact Weinstein has unprincipled acolytes inside the military who are willing to provide names, office numbers, and pictures of their peers and property is disturbing.
So how can the Air Force protect the liberties — and the privacy — of its Airmen from Weinstein’s attacks? In this case, Weinstein preempted much of that capability by intentionally publicizing the Major’s personal details — a completely unnecessary act, unless he’s going for coercion.
It seems the best course of action at that point for the Air Force is to first aggressively protect itself, and then aggressively protect its Airmen. There’s no requirement for the Air Force to respond to Mikey Weinstein at all — but if its going to, it should actually defend itself, not give boilerplate press releases that leave room for the perception of adding legitimacy to Weinstein’s vendetta against Christianity.
In this case, it would have been simple enough to note that the Air Force works aggressively to ensure the protection of religious liberty — and that it would certainly look into any complaint when it was actually filed. (Weinstein sending an email isn’t an actionable complaint, folks.) Until that time, all Airmen, including Major Lewis, are encouraged by Air Force regulations to exercise the tenets of their faith — and the Air Force will protect their right to do so. Even implying that they’ll “look into” something Weinstein brings up unnecessarily adds legitimacy to his cause.
The Air Force reached the right conclusion — but it shouldn’t have taken so much effort to get there. Treat Mikey Weinstein like every other common activist agitator, and not only will the Air Force culture of religious freedom benefit, but it will also be easier to accomplish the mission without distraction.